By Kris Voakes in Sao Paulo
Sebastian Coates has hailed Luis Suarez as the best player in the world and says the striker made all the difference as Uruguay overcame an opening defeat against Costa Rica to beat England on Thursday.
Suarez missed the 3-1 defeat in Fortaleza as he recovered from a knee injury which had kept him out of action for five weeks, but returned to score both goals in the 2-1 win in Sao Paulo which gives them a great chance of qualifying for the knockout stage.
“It’s true. He is an amazing player. For us, he is very important,” the Liverpool defender told reporters after the game.
“In the first game, we missed Luis, but he showed today how important he is.”
Suarez had been pictured in a wheelchair just a few weeks ago, only to make a remarkable recovery, and Coates was quick to pay tribute to the staff who had helped his star team-mate get back on his feet so speedily.
“The physio, Walter Ferreira, is a very good physio. He said to Luis that with some work, he would be playing against England. For us, I say it is very important to have Luis on the pitch. He showed today he is the best.
“I think he is the best in the world. Luis and Edinson Cavani are two of the best players in this moment.”
Coates was among a number of players celebrating fervently at the full-time whistle, and he puts that togetherness of spirit down to a desire to treat the match as a one-off.
“For us it was a final. If we lost we would have had to go back to Uruguay. In a final, you celebrate with your partners, your family and the people of Uruguay, so it was amazing.
“But we must beat Italy to pass from the group.”
Uruguay face the Italians in Natal on Tuesday knowing only a victory will guarantee their passage from Group D, although a draw may still see them through depending on the result of the simultaneous clash between Costa Rica and England.